My preschooler has no concept of time. If I ask him to wait 5 minutes, he quickly counts 1-2-3-4-5 and declares that 5 minutes have passed. Even older kids (and, ahem, adults) can have a tough time managing time.
If you’re tired of your child demanding something RIGHT NOW, consider getting a timer that visually shows time passing by. It can buy you 5 minutes, plus help them learn to wait and not expect instant gratification (one can hope).
It can also be an official, neutral way to let your child know that 5 minutes of screen time or playtime is up. Research says that kids ages 3 to 5 are beginning to understand the order of things—breakfast comes before lunch, for instance—so it’s a great time to teach kids about patience and time.
Of course, you could always use an app on your phone, but where’s the fun in that?
Our preschool uses a 5-minute sand timer all the time. If two kids want to play with the same toy, one kid can use the 5-minute sand timer to wait their turn. It’s satisfying to see the sands of time dribble through the hourglass, and there’s no bickering about whether 5 minutes have really elapsed… except when a kid cheats and flips the timer over before it’s done.
Likewise, our dentist encourages our kids to brush their teeth for at least 2 minutes with this inexpensive 2-minute timer.
It’s mesmerizing to watch the liquid ooze to the bottom with this 2-minute liquid timer, so much so that it won’t feel like that much time has gone by.
I see elementary school teachers use this Time Timer Countdown Clock in their classrooms all the time. Now that the kids are older, they can read the numbers. This clock helps them budget their time. They can literally see how much time they have to take care of a task (like, say, eat their lunch), with the red slice of allotted time getting smaller and smaller.
Sometimes all you need is something that will buzz or chime after a certain amount of time has passed. You can make it fun by using a kitchen timer that’s shaped like your child’s favorite animal, like this adorable cat kitchen timer, hedgehog kitchen timer, cow kitchen timer or pig kitchen timer. Alas, they don’t meow, moo, or oink when the time is up; they just ring. Then again, what kind of sound does a hedgehog even make?